The angel of the Lord. A satanic accuser in the throne room of God. A priest with dirty clothes. The promise of a coming Messiah. And a front row seat to God’s plan of redemption. On Sunday we considered all of these items, as they appear together in Zechariah 3.
Finishing up our series on the priesthood, we saw in Sunday’s sermon how our lives fit into the incredible storyline of the priesthood. From Zechariah 3, in particular, we learned how God restored the priesthood after the exile, which served as “sign” (v. 8) for a greater priesthood to come.
If you want to understand how the priesthood moved from the Old Testament to the New, Zechariah is an important book. And this sermon will help you understand that book and how Joshua the high priest foreshadowed the coming of a greater Joshua and his friends.
You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions are below along with a few resources on Zechariah and the priesthood. Continue reading
Who is Melchizedek? And why is Jesus called a high priest like Melchizedek? And what does Mel—can we abbreviate his strange name?—have to do with the church and the world today?
On Sunday, I tried to answer those questions with an animated tour of the Bible. Incorporating the artistic gifts of Jeff Dionise, our elder for outreach, I preached a three part message that started with Melchizedek in history (Genesis 14), moved to Melchizedek in poetry and prophecy (Psalm 110), and finished with Jesus Christ, or Melchizedek in fulfillment (Hebrews 7).
In what follows you can listen to the message or trace the story with the graphics displayed below. Additional resources are also found below. Response questions will return next week as our church finishes up its series on the priesthood.
ds Continue reading
I am __________.
In individualistic cultures, these words are usually filled with various accomplishments, activities, or vocations. I am a musician. I am a doctor. I am a (recovering) alcoholic. However, in more communal cultures, this sentence is more likely completed with relational predicates. I am a son. I am a mother. I am a husband.
Of course, studies that have employed this fill-in-the-blank test have only produced general trends. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider what words you use to introduce yourself. Are you first and foremost defined by what you do? Or by who you are with? Or is it some combination of the two?
This Sunday we will again consider the priesthood in Israel and how the family vocation of guarding the temple defined the Levites. At the same time, we will see how the events of their history inform the backstory to our own priestly calling. As Isaiah 66:21 says of the nations who will come to Christ in the new creation: “Some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites.”
Indeed, for those in Christ we find that we both have family and a vocation that fills in the blanks of our life and gives us both redemption and service in God’s kingdom. Like the Levites given to the priest to serve God in his house (Num. 8:19), we too are servants given to Christ, who in turn has given us to the church (Eph. 4:8, 11–12).
Therefore, learning the history of the Levites is not just learning someone else’s family history. If you are in Christ, it is your family history, not to mention a key part in how God has brought redemption to the world.
This week’s sermon can be heard online. Response questions are below, as additional resources.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds Continue reading
Last week we celebrated the Reformation Day (October 31) and the recovery of the gospel brought about by men and women like Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora. Both of these Reformers fled the monastic life in order to follow Christ. Yet, in departing the Roman Catholic system of priesthood, they did not abandon the priesthood of Christ nor the priesthood of believers.
In fact, Martin Luther was one of the most prolific exponents of the biblical teaching that all followers of Christs are saints—a priesthood by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, in a very real sense any Protestant view of the Bible that denies the place of priesthood actually denies the very gospel which the Reformation recovered. Jesus Christ is our great high priest, one whose sacrifice for sin and priestly intercession makes faith possible.
Thinking again, therefore, about what Scripture says about priesthood, we considered in Sunday’s sermon the necessity of a high priest, and what means that Jesus is our great high priest. Going back to Exodus 28–30, we considered the original purpose of the high priest in Israel and how Jesus came to both fulfill and exceed those original expectations.
If the priesthood is something you care about, or if its something you don’t care about, this sermon is for you. You can listen to it online. Response questions are below as are a few additional resources. Continue reading
Are you a royal priest? How do you know? What is a kingdom of priests? And how does that really apply today? Is this title for individuals? Or should it be a community identity?
Many questions swirl around the biblical idea of priesthood. And on Sunday we considered Peter’s words to the church: “You are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). In examining his words, we learned that they go back to Exodus 19:6 and come in the context of worship on the mountain God.
By examining Exodus 19:6, therefore, in its original context and comparing it to 1 Peter 2, we were able to learn how God makes a priestly people, what a kingdom of priests do, and how this title of royal priesthood applies to us today.
You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources can be found below. Continue reading
What does the Bible say about divorce?
Unfortunately, it says quite a bit. As a book that gives us everything we need for life and godliness, the Bible gives instructions about marriage and warnings about divorce. But that is not all that it says.
If our minds jump too quickly, we may only remember the words of Malachi 2: God hates divorce. But we can’t read that prophetic utterance without reading Jeremiah 3, a passage that tells how God issued a certificate of divorce to his covenant people Israel, when their sin destroyed their covenant with God. Moreover, we cannot forget the grace God gives to heal past sins, even as we read and repeat his instructions about covenant marriage and the sinfulness of divorce.
Accordingly, we must understand divorce according to the full gospel story of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. In this context, we begin to see how the whole Bible gives comfort and conviction about this and every subject.
But why are we taking about divorce?
Well, to our series on the Sermon on the Mount, we had to return to one section of the Sermon our schedule forced us to postpone—namely, Jesus’s teaching on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31–32. With help from Jeremiah 3, I preached a message on the root problem of divorce (a hard-heart) and how Christ enables covenant-breakers to be covenant-keepers.
You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions are below, as are additional resources—both ethical and practical—regarding marriage and divorce. Continue reading
Hurricanes. Tornados. Floods. Fires. Earthquakes.
In our world, not a week goes by that we are not confronted with extreme and life-threatening weather. Yet, there is a storm coming that exceeds anything that we have ever known. It is the storm of the Lord that will purify everything on the earth, on the way to making all things new.
On Sunday, our last sermon from Matthew 7 considered this storm and the shelter which is found in the words of Jesus Christ. Indeed, considering the way Christ finished his Sermon on the Mount, we hear again his clarion call to prepare for the last day.
You can find this sermon and the whole sermon series online. There are also response questions below. Continue reading
How deep the father’s love for us / How vast beyond all measure
That he should give his only Son / To make a wretch his treasure
These words by Stuart Townend express in song what Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, namely that the Father in heaven loves his children and longs for us to come and find our greatest reward in him. Indeed, this is why Jesus Christ came, to bring the Father’s kingdom to earth by means of his death and resurrection. In the new covenant Jesus made a way for sins to be forgiven and for forgiven sinners to enter God’s presence.
In Matthew 7:7–11 specifically, we find another place where Jesus’s focus on the Father teaches disciples about the kind of access they have to God and the kind of prayer our Father in heaven loves to hear. On Sunday considered this passage and how Jesus teaches us to pray.
You can listen to the sermon online. Below you can find discussion questions and additional resources, including the majestic rendition of How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by the Austin Stone Church. Continue reading
Sexual sin. It is a destructive issue we face more often than we like to admit.
Whether it is lust, pornography, adultery, same-sex attraction, or any number of other desires that deviate from God’s good design, we are inclined to bury these parts of our lives in the dark. Yet, in Sermon on the Mount, Jesus wisely and lovingly shines a light on our hearts. Getting to the heart of sexual sin, he explains what lust is, where it comes from, and how, by God’s new covenant grace, it be put to death.
This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:27–30 to learn from Jesus what lust is and how to combat it. And the answer, which may or may not come as a surprise, is to look more at the beauty and goodness of God than to merely turn away from the flesh. While external barriers and accountability are helpful, it is a heart full of Christ that empowers us to flee from sexual lust.
You can listen to this sermon online, and you can find discussion questions and related resources below. In particular, there are notes below that deal directly with the subject of pornography. Continue reading
This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:21–26, where we saw the first of six lessons Jesus gives us about the law of Moses applied to his new covenant disciples.
Interpreting the sixth commandment, “Do not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), Jesus stressed the importance of making peace with those whom we have sinned against. In Sunday’s sermon we looked briefly at how Jesus applied Moses Words, but more importantly we considered a multitude of applications found in Jesus Words.
You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources are listed below. Continue reading